Susan Tousi

Chief Commercial Officer

Tell us about your organisation and its journey to date.

Illumina’s focus on innovation is through unlocking the power of the genome to transform human health. This innovation has established Illumina as a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical and applied markets. Our technologies are re-imagining the potential of genomics in addressing life’s most profound challenges, including cancer, rare genetic diseases, food security, climate change, infectious diseases, and pandemic preparedness. We are empowering more than 8,000 customers in more than 140 countries with cutting-edge and innovative systems needed to further unlock the power of the genome. 

How has the organisation evolved to address the challenges of an ever-changing healthcare sector? Please list some accomplishments.

Illumina’s aim is to improve lives by enabling personalised health through genomics. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is the single most comprehensive method for genetic disease testing that provides the highest coverage of the human genome, revolutionising patient care and treatment.

Comprehensive Genomic Profiling (CGP) is another next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach that uses a single test to assess hundreds of genes and biomarkers in tissue and blood samples to detect those that are clinically relevant in driving cancer growth. These technologies are supporting the quadruple aim of healthcare systems in improving population health, reducing costs, enhancing the patient experience, and improving provider satisfaction.

Some key accomplishments include our expanding NGS oncology portfolio and partnerships with industry leaders, as we aim to advance cancer diagnostics and bring patients a step closer to precision medicine. Earlier this year we launched our CE-marked in vitro diagnostic Trusight™ Oncology Comprehensive (EU) solution kit and several pan-cancer companion diagnostic claims to help inform therapy decisions earlier in the cancer patient journey.

Additionally, our recently announced NovaSeq X series of sequencers advance our goal of moving from the era of the genome to the era of precision medicine, where genomic medicine becomes mainstream. Importantly, not only are we improving human health with this new sequencing platform, but we can reduce the cost of sequencing a genome to US$200 — that’s one-third the cost of our last innovation — which will make genomics accessible to millions of people around the world, helping improve lives. We are optimistic that within 10 years, the genome will be foundational to a lifetime of health management — providing insight into disease risk, what drugs will work for the individual, and if early cancer screening is needed.  

Give us an insight into your portfolio and solutions targeted at the Middle East region.  

Our latest NGS technologies and solutions deliver innovative, flexible, and scalable solutions, and can be used in a variety of clinical settings such as oncology, genetic disease testing, and non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). A particular focus for the region is rare diseases that have a higher-than-average occurrence at seven per cent of the population compared to the global average of two to six per cent. At Illumina, we are working to shorten the time for a definitive diagnosis of rare and undiagnosed diseases, with the aim of improving healthcare outcomes for patients and their families.

The use of WGS for genetic disease testing has proven to help those with rare diseases receive timely diagnoses and the care they deserve. We have collaborations in the Middle East, as well as globally, on programmes to accelerate the use of WGS as a standard of care in critically ill new borns.  

Tell us about your recent and upcoming investments and partnerships in this field.

With 20 channel partners in the Middle East region, we are committed to providing education and support as the genomics partner of choice. Although the Middle East is home to more than 400 million people, it is under-represented in various human genome variation databases.

Illumina is committed to ensuring that the human genome represents the diversity of people from all ethnic backgrounds. We are proud to bring our knowledge and technology to the region to support the creation of large national genome databases, contributing to the Arabic genome global data set.

For such large population genomics projects where the findings translate into actionable data for drug discovery as we move deeper into the era of genomic medicine, the accuracy and scalability of our sequencing platforms makes us an ideal partner.

What will you be showcasing at Medlab Middle East 2023?

It is so great to be back at MedLab Middle East. Our latest Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies in a variety of clinical settings will be showcased on the Illumina booth, including NextSeq™ 2000 and our new NovaSeq X platform.

This breakthrough technology is the most innovative sequencing platform ever developed that pushes the limit on what is possible in genomics — faster, cheaper, and more accurate sequencing will enable scientists and clinicians in the fight to diagnose, treat, and eventually, cure diseases.

Our experts at the booth are looking forward to providing an interactive experience for customers, including demonstrations of flexible workflows and software choices for bioinformatics data. As part of the seminar programme, Illumina is also hosting a genomics workshop from leading experts, as well as a presentation on the NovaSeq X series. 

In addition to the above, what opportunities are you looking forward to at the upcoming event?  

With customers at the centre of everything we do, this conference is a wonderful opportunity for networking, brainstorming, and understanding our customers’ needs to enable innovation and transformational change. 

Please tell us about your plans for the year 2023.

We have seen incredible growth in our more than 20 years of innovation across research and clinical genomics. As an industry leader, we are in excellent shape and excited about our future prospects as we continue to provide our products globally and addressing our customer's needs. With 2023 an important year for our NovaSeq X platform, we will be driving transformation in healthcare as we move from the era of the genome to the era of precision medicine.  

Anything else you would like to add?

Illumina recently opened its Solutions Center in the heart of Dubai to provide a facility with state-of-the-art genomic capability for training and knowledge sharing across the region. The Solutions Center is a culmination of our commitment to creating a lasting partnership with the UAE and its scientific and healthcare communities.

The Center will enable our partners and customers, not only in the UAE but throughout the region, to scale their genomics capabilities and build local expertise to support the delivery of genomic precision medicine to an increasing number of patients, shaping the future of healthcare in the Middle East.